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Nitrate runoff levels pose health risks to adults, children and infants

Jun 02, 2017
Photo credit: Steve Johnson

Photo credit: Steve Johnson

A new study published in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety shows that groundwater samples in Northeast China have nitrate pollution at levels that pose a significant risk to humans. The research team collected 389 samples from residential areas and public water supply wells, and tested them for nitrate levels. They found high levels of nitrate pollution, exceeding China’s safety standard in 32 percent of the samples.  Researchers attributed these levels to human activities, particularly synthetic fertilizer use on conventional farms. Using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) human health risk assessment to estimate the risk these elevated levels of nitrate pose to the public, they found that around 40 percent of the samples exceeded the acceptable health risk levels for adults. For children, over 50 percent exceeded the acceptable health risk, and for infants, that statistic was over 60 percent. These findings highlight the dangers that synthetic fertilizer use can pose to human health.

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